Senior News: Congratulations on being savvy about scams

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    By Cheryl Wilkinson
    PREVIEW Columnist

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is where scams in the U.S. are reported and investigated, and, with any luck, resolved. Back in 2014, the FTC launched Pass it On based on a pair of simple truths:

    • Most older adults are active and engaged in their communities; and 

    • Sharing what you know can help protect others in your community.

    This approach is working. Far from being the vulnerable victims that most people perceive older Americans to be, the FTC reports that:

    • Older adults are the least likely of any age group to report losing money to scams.

    • Consumers who are 60 and better spot and reported fraud before losing money at nearly twice the rate of people between 20 and 59.

    That said, the scams that do gain the greatest traction for those 60 and better are phone scams. This type of fraud includes tax and benefits schemes — targeting those aspects of people’s lives where individuals feel they have little control and so are more likely to respond to phone communications. 

    Government imposters ranked second in the November 2020 FTC list of most damaging scams against those 60 and better. The Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker reports that bogus tax collection came second in their online survey in 2019. In tax-related identity theft, stolen Social Security numbers may be used to get a tax refund or a job. Thieves posting as members of the Social Security Administration (SSA) hit record levels, up 30 percent in 2020. 

    The Area Agency on Aging wrote about another government imposter scam — Medicare fraud — in the March 4 Pagosa SUN (Volume 113, No 24).

    What can you do?

    Here at tax-time, you can foster awareness. Your experience, expertise and trusted place in our community serve as a force for good against scammers. If you’re interested in learning more about stopping scams, you can download the free, no-registration-required FINRA report “Exposed to Scams: What Separates Victims from Non-Victims.”

    You can learn more about The Community Café, take out and Meals on Wheels reservations, and other ASI programs on our website: http://www.psseniors.org/.

    VITA tax preparation

    Due to COVID-19, the IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will not be coming to Pagosa Springs to prepare federal and state income tax returns this year. 

    VITA will be preparing 2020 tax returns at no charge as part of the VITA program in Durango. Please register at: DurangoVITA.org. The gross income limit this tax season is $54,000. 

    Take-out meals continue at Senior Center

    In order to continue providing meals, the Pagosa Springs Senior Center is offering take-out hot meals and a salad with a drive-up option under the portico at the Ross Aragon Community Center. 

    These meals will be available Monday through Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There is a $4 suggested donation for lunch for those age 60 and better. If you need to have your meal delivered, please call 264-2167 to see if this option is available in your area. 

    The cost per meal for the public age 59 and under is $8.50. The meals include a salad, hot meal, drink and dessert or bread. 

    Please call 264-2167 to make a reservation for pickup. We are also continuing our Meals on Wheels program. 

    There will be no games, classes or presentations during this time. The staff will be available by phone. If you need to speak to a staff member, please call 264-2167.

    The Community
    Café menu

    Thursday, March 11 — Mediterranean tuna sandwich, broccoli salad, milk, salad and dessert.

    Friday, March 12 — Turkey wrap, hummus, milk, salad and dessert.

    Monday, March 15 — Beef cheeseburgers with sweet potato fries, milk, salad and dessert.

    Tuesday, March 16 — Chicken curry salad sandwich, broccoli salad, milk, salad and dessert. 

    Wednesday, March 17 — Lasagna, focaccia bread with butter, milk, salad and dessert.

    Thursday, March 18 — Turkey wrap, hummus, milk, salad and dessert.

    Reservations and cancellations are required. You can make a reservation at 264-2167 by 9 a.m. the morning of the day you would like to drive through and pick up a meal. 

    For your convenience, you can make your reservations in advance or have a standing reservation on days you know you will always pick up. Please cancel if you cannot attend on your standing reservation days. We want to thank everyone for their support by observing our reservation policy. This helps ensure that everyone with reservations receives a meal and enables us to provide additional and healthier meals.

    Due to COVID-19, food supplies have been affected. Substitutions will be made accordingly.